Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Very Entertaining

The internet so totally rocks! I have 8 vintage glasses from my grandmother but I have 11 place settings of my wedding china (that match the glasses). A quick search on Google and a few clicks later I've figured out who made the glasses, the time period they were made, and about a dozen different places to buy more!! (And the 12th place setting to complete my china is out there too, if I should one day decide that's important, even though the pattern was discontinued 6 years ago.)

All of this searching for glasses and china came about after I did some entertaining recently by hosting a tea. I went all out- all of the aforementioned wedding china, all of my fancy serving dishes, several items from my grandmother, and a few new things to fill in the gaps. (Mix and match is a very good concept; I used it to full advantage.) Each china place setting includes a tea cup but I also wanted to offer iced tea (which is what everyone wound up drinking) so I pulled out my grandmother's Libbey Silver Foliage Highball glasses. With only the 8 glasses, therefore only 8 complete place settings at the table, but about 12 people in the group, I was short 4 place settings. Well, I went for it anyway. If more than 8 people showed, then the wow factor with my fancy table would be there for the early arrivals, and the late comers would get... something not so wow, but still nice. (Mix and match, mix and match!!) I am fond of everyone in the group but I was so hoping the numbers would work.

Well, I lucked out. One person (one of my dearest friends) had to leave early, then another member turned up late, so we only ever had 8 (including me) at one time. I had enough china to pull out a clean place setting and the highball glass got a wash and was good to go when the last person knocked on the door. Whew!

It was a lot of work to pull off the tea but it was so much fun to do. DH and the kids even pitched in and helped out, especially on the day of. I did as much as I could in advance; the table was set days ahead with warnings to the Wild Child not to even THINK of going by the table. I polished the silver, too- a first! I shopped for additional serving pieces, tea pots (I found two) and loose tea blends. (Which no one drank, but it is hot this time of year.) I made my grandmother's pound cake. A few of the people in the group are vegan so I also had some vegan selections for them, including delicious lemon/blueberry scones with coconut whipped "cream" to top them with. Of course there were also tea sandwiches and plenty of desserts. (Including hummus tea sandwiches for my vegan friends.) I threw in a watercress salad (thanks to DH for prepping the watercress- talk about a tedious job!) since we almost always have a salad at these gatherings, but the watercress made it British. Unconventionally, I put out a cheese tray and found a mix of regular and vegan cheeses to go on it. Deviled eggs rounded things out, since I am a southern girl. Yum!

All in all, I think it went pretty well and it was a great learning experience. I have a better idea now of what it takes to pull off something formal, and it will definitely be easier next time. When I put everything away I rearranged so that I can pull it all out more easily. Items that won't get used again (like stoneware from the 1980's in colors I don't use anymore) that were taking up valuable storage real estate are going, going, gone, leaving room to put things away properly. That was a big part of the work for this tea- just pulling things out of the awkward places they were hidden in and getting them unwrapped, washed, and ready to use took forever! I won't have to shop at the last minute for the odds and ends to complete my table, either, so that will be easier. Thanks to the internet I can even get those glasses to match my grandmother's set so I'll have enough the next time!

Here's a picture of the tea:

My china is Noritake Cumberland.

The cake plate way in the back ground on the dresser (that's supposed to go away- it was in my son's room and I've tried to Freecycle it but no one wants the darn thing) with the pound cake on it is Lenox, a 10th anniversary purchase, from their "Swedish Lodge" collection. You can't see it well in the picture but I love it so I had to mention it. (Scroll down to "footed cake plate" for a picture on the link.)

There's also a vintage cake plate, somewhat smaller so you can't see it at all, and I can't remember where I got it. My grandmother? Kevin's grandmother? Who knows, but Macy's has a "modern vintage" collection with some very similar pieces that were oh, so tempting...

Also from Macy's and a new purchase for this event, are the bowls and saucers. I used the bowls to hold jam and apple butter. (They aren't filled yet in the picture, obviously; you can see them at the bottom of the picture. One is to the left of the first place setting you see looking from the bottom up. There are a couple others to the right.) I love the elliptical shape which makes them more modern, yet they coordinate perfectly with my china.

Macy's also had a square serving platter with silver highlights that was absolutely perfect. It's covered with the lemon/blueberry scones so you can't see the pattern, but it is pretty.

And also from Macy's, a floral tea pot. (And thank goodness for sales and discounts!) (It's on the side board and not in the picture.)

I had so much fun finding these new items. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a table cloth (I needed one that would fit with the extra leaf in the table) and found a pretty mini salt and pepper mill set too. Dillard's was next but they didn't have anything I liked so I was going to leave the mall, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead and give Macy's a try. I am so glad I did! The new serving pieces I purchased round out what I already have perfectly, and everything was on sale! It was win-win all the way around, and I'll have those pieces forever. I can set a spectacular table now- my grandmother, a wonderful hostess in her day, would be so proud. It makes me miss her, but it gives me warm feelings to remember that about her, too.

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